A game from Mike Singleton is always an event. And we've been waiting for some time to see anything new from the Doomsdark man, despite lots of rumours, so Throne Of Fire is bound to create some interest.
Throne isn't quite an adventure, it isn't quite an arcade adventure, it isn't quite a wargame - but it is a combination of all three.
Not a game for those of you who demand instant gratification - but a challenge for gamesters who enjoy thinking with their action.
Throne Of Fire is set within the Burning Citadel where three princes bid to seize the throne, and with it ultimate power. The three princes are Alorn the Lion Prince - a goodie, Cordrin the Sun Prince, another goodie and Karag the Wolf Prince - a black-hearted baddie. Guess who is going to be the one everyone will play?
You can play alone against two computer-controlled princes or with a friend and the computer. This is the best way to play as you can gang up on the computer prince and finish him off before fighting it out human to human!
The computer opponent is a tough cookie and will beat you nine times out of ten. So beware of early frustrations.
The screen display - a bit like Deactivators is split-screen. The activities of the princes are shown in two large windows while below there's a plan view of the citadel.
The main display screen area depicts the actions of the character who is currently under direct control, as he travels from room to room or is engaged in combat.
Each room is shown in perspective, and doors on the left and right lead directly to other rooms on the same level. Doors at the back lead to stairways ascending or descending to other levels.
The scrolling Citadel display at the bottom of each player's screen area depicts the inner wall of the Citadel.
The windows of all occupied rooms are lit in different colours, according to the allegiance of the occupant.
If a window flickers between two colours, there are two members of opposing forces in that room, who may be engaged in combat.
The colours are: Prince Alorn and his men-at-arms - red. Prince Cordrin and his men-at-arms - yellow. Prince Karak and his men-at-arms - purple. The men of the King's Guard - green.
The scrolling screen gives essential information about the deployment of all forces, but it does not reveal the structure of the Citadel, the connecting stairways, nor the contents of the rooms. These can only be discovered by exploration.
At the start of play, there are ten men under the control of each player - a prince, and nine men-at-arms. During play, however, the number of men-at-arms will vary greatly, as some are killed, and reinforcements arrive.
Characters who are not currently under the player's direct control cannot move from room to room of their own accord, but they will defend themselves if attacked.
However, they will not be able to fight very well. To get the best from his men, a player should, whenever possible, directly control them in combat mode.
Within the Citadel are a number of Gate Rooms. These rooms have only two doors, one which leads into the Citadel, and one which leads to the outside world which cannot be used by any of the players.
From time to time new men-at-arms will enter Gate Rooms from the outside.
They will only enter empty rooms, and they will join the side of the last player to have visited that room.
If the room has yet to be visited by any player, then the new men will instead join the ranks of the King's Guard.
So, as you'll have already guessed, it's important to map the position of these gate rooms. The Throne room is the ultimate objective.
To seize the throne, a player must visit the Throne Room with his prince, and his visit must be unopposed. No other characters belonging to the other players or to the King's Guard can be in the room.
On gaining the Throne, that prince becomes King, and in addition to his men-at-arms, now takes control of the King's Guard.
At the same time, the other players lose the ability to directly control their men-at-arms, who now stay rooted to the spot, seeking only to defend themselves against attack.
Should the new King die, the King's Guard becomes neutral once again, and the surviving players regain control of their men-at-arms. They can now once more attempt to seize the Throne.
Die and your screen gets smeared with a tasteful splurt of blood. Nice!
Throne Of Fire won't be to everyone's taste - but if you've got the time and an inclination towards strategy games you'll find it an absorbing challenge.
One word of warning. Don't be put off by early failures - as I've already said, the computer is a tough opponent. Be prepared to suffer early frustrations until you get to grips with the game.